Pence raises prospect of USA talks with North Korea -…

What happens with North Korea after the Olympics?

Kim Yo Jong offered an invitation from her brother for Moon to visit the North, in the strongest sign yet of an expanding diplomatic opening opposed by the U.S.

The result mattered less than the political symbolism, however, as around 200 of North Korea's famed "army of beauties" charmed a crowd of 3,600 besotted locals with nostalgic oldies - and even broke out a Mexican wave.

Most notably, Kim sat directly behind U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at Friday night's opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, creating the unique image of two top officials whose governments have been locked in a loud argument, suddenly seated just feet away from each other.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited the South's President Moon Jae-in for a summit in Pyongyang, stirring hopes of a tentative rapprochement between the bitterly divided neighbors.

Lee also said that inter-Korean talks should continue after the Olympics.

Some burnt North Korean flags and photos of Kim Jong Un at the rally.

Although South Korea has been a trenchant supporter of Trump's campaign of "maximum pressure" against North Korea, Moon has been keen to use the Olympics to pry open the door to better relations with its adversary. North Korea is trying all it can to weaken the impact of the sanctions.

They were on both sides of the ice, chanting back and forth. "They have people hungry in North Korea".

A visit by Moon to the North would enable the first summit between leaders from the two Koreas since 2007, and would mark only the third inter-Korean summit to take place.

"I was encouraged by the affirmation of our alliance and our common goal, from both (Japanese) Prime Minister Abe and President Moon", Pence said.

Seoul seeks communication, lower military tension ahead of possible North Korea summit
North Korea is calling for the exercises, which involve rehearsing attacks on the regime, to be canceled outright. Pence had arrived in South Korea for the opening of the Olympics with a clear intention to isolate North Korea.

Any summit between the two still-officially warring Koreas would be a coup for Moon, who has been pushing for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.

The lunch Saturday at Seoul's presidential mansion between Moon and Kim Yo Jong was the most significant diplomatic encounter between the rivals in years.

Her position is such that, according to a Seoul-based think tank run by North Korean defectors, Kim briefly took charge of the country while her brother was reportedly ill with gout or diabetes in late 2014.

"I don't think there is much to expect in the inter-Korean relations unless there is improvement in relations between North Korea and the United States", said Kim Yong Hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul.

"The fate of our nation must be determined by our own selves - we must not allow the repeat of unfortunate past history where our fate was determined with no regard to our opinions", Moon said in a speech to South Korean lawmakers in November. The presence of Fred Warmbier, whose son was brutalized by the North Korean regime, was largely overlooked, and the same was true for Pence's meeting with North Korean defectors, people who risked everything to escape to freedom.

That was not the case with Moon - either at the games, when he enthusiastically reached up to shake Kim Yo Jong's hand, or at the lunch the next day. It had shown no interest so far in negotiating over demands to give up its nuclear and missile programs.

"Now is not the time to postpone U.S".

But analysts say it may be more hard for the South to arrange a summit with the North coming off a year in which Pyongyang test-fired dozens of missiles, including three ICBMs, and conducted its most powerful nuclear test to date. He supported Pence's moves to meet with North Korean defectors, paying respects at a memorial to the 46 South Korean sailors killed in a 2010 torpedo attack blamed on the North. Pence also invited as his Olympics guest the father of US college student Otto Warmbier, who died after he was imprisoned by North Korea for stealing a propaganda poster.

In that regard, Kim Jong Un has scored a victory this week.

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